Inequity in Nigeria's Party Politics
08 March 2014
By Ado Umar
Although they were among the prime movers for the
successful merger of three major opposition parties
and factions of two others to form the All
Progressives Congress (APC), Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa recently shocked many
Nigerians when they defected to the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP).
As former governors of Kano and Sokoto states,
Shekarau and Bafarawa were among leaders of the All
Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) which lost its
registration certificate to pave way for the emergence
of APC. With no party to return to, they were
therefore forced by circumstances to seek refuge in
the PDP against their perceived personal and political
Some people were in fact disappointed that the two men
chose a party which is diametrically opposed to all
that they claimed to have stood for. Yet others saw
nothing wrong with it, because with top leaders of the
PDP crossing over to APC almost on a daily basis, the
difference between the two parties is now only in
So far five governors, 37 Reps, 11 Senators, and
lately ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar have dumped
the PDP for APC. What remains now is for former
president Olusegun Obasanjo and more legislators to
follow suit. If this happens, there is no doubt about
it that ex-PDP elements would ultimately control the
commanding heights of APC and the party will truly
become the "alternative PDP" it is already derisively
dubbed by some critics.
Shekarau and Bafarawa opted out of APC, according to
them, not only because of its failure to do the
needful as designed by its leaders six months after
its registration but because they would not get
justice at state and national levels of the party.
Firstly, they were piqued that when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed
Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led a powerful
delegation to Kano and Sokoto to woo their governors
they were neither informed beforehand, invited, nor
And shortly after their defection, the governors were
given the unwarranted privilege of having five out of
nine slots in the party's state executive councils,
leaving only four for the three major legacy parties.
But more perplexing is the grossly undemocratic reward
of automatic tickets given to the defected ex-PDP
legislators to contest the 2015 elections. Shekarau
said when he complained formally about this and other
infractions against the party's constitution through a
petition signed by him and over 250 supporters it was
neither acknowledged nor responded to six weeks later.
After the visit to Kano by the top leaders some
supporters of Shekarau began to blame Buhari for
complicity in the attempt to sideline their leader. To
absolve him from blame, Buba Galadima claimed on a
radio station in Kano that he and two other people,
Sule Y. Hamma and one Ambassador Waziri, were actually
the brains behind the visits to woo the G-7 governors.
He said it was they who insisted that Shekarau and
Bafarawa must not be involved in the talks.
What can we now deduce from this? It is a confession
of a deliberate plot to push some people and their
leaders out of APC. It is also a proof that members of
the infamous TBO who were accused of sabotaging
Buhari's three attempts for the Presidency through
manipulation of party affairs and who later announced
publically that they had parted ways with him, are
back again to play the same script.
However, rather than convince his listeners by
justifying their suggestion to APC leaders, as one of
those who should be held to account for serially
scuttling Buhari's ambition, he kept ranting in a
manner that betrayed bitterness and vendetta. And so
with men like these having the ears of Tinubu and
Buhari, how on earth would the former governors ever
get justice from APC?
Without doubt, Shekarau and Bafarawa were unfairly
treated by APC leaders in a way that was absolutely
undemocratic. Besides non-observance of constitutional
provisions, surely there is inequity in the concession
given to the G-5 governors regarding number of seats
in state executive councils and the reward of
automatic tickets given to their protégés.
But where is the wisdom in all this? Is it because the
governors have the wherewithal to finance the party,
rent the crowds or rig the elections for APC? I have
reservations about the decision of the ex-governors
but I certainly endorse their move. I believe they are
justified in leaving the party as surely some
officials of the party had malevolent intentions
Those who are disappointed that the two men have
joined the PDP rather than remain in APC because of
the general belief that the party is out to save us
from the alleged misrule of the PDP have right to
express their opinion. However, I pray to God that
their hope is not misplaced. This is because recently,
Ijaw elder Chief Edwin Clark charged that Yorubas have
no leaders because those who now claim to be their
leaders can be bought. Cast your mind back to 2011 and
recall the betrayal Nuhu Ribadu suffered and you may
agree that he might know something we don't.
So with this scenario the hype that APC is the saviour
of our people may be far-fetched. In any case, is the
party not proving now that it is as PDP as they come?
And how sure is anyone that the APC will be better
than PDP in any conceivable way? Many young people are
under the illusion that with Buhari at the top Nigeria
will be a Utopia with sufficient supply of electricity
and fuel, running taps, good roads, excellent
health-care delivery, etc.
I sincerely hope that something even near that will
ever be possible. But these highly impressionable
young people will be profoundly disappointed if this
is not the case in the event that APC wins in 2015.
However, will it be the same Buhari of the mid-1980s
with a swagger stick in his hand? Will he be able to
operate as efficiently in a democratic setting as he
did three decades ago? Time will tell.